A shrunken head is a head that has been shrunk, by removing the head's skull and fat.
In the wizarding world, shrunken heads are animated, providing sentience, and having the ability to talk and move. Some may be considered dark objects, while others may be kept by wizards as a mascot, such as Dre Head, in the Knight Bus and a bunch of shrunken heads, at the Three Broomsticks Inn. Shrunken heads may be bought at Knockturn Alley.
Harry Potter encountered Dre Head, an animated shrunken head when travelling on the Knight Bus from Little Whinging to the Leaky Cauldron in London. Later in the school year, during one of the Hogsmeade weekend trips, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger were prevented from entering the Three Broomsticks Inn by three shrunken heads.
When Harry Potter was brought to 12 Grimmauld Place, Mrs Weasley assisted him to Ron and Hermione's room upstairs. While they were passing along the dark staircase, Harry saw a row of shrunken heads mounted on plaques on the wall. After a closer look, he noticed that the heads belonged to house-elves. Harry later discovered that beheading old house-elves and mounting their heads on display was something of a tradition in the Black family.
Known shrunken heads
- Dre Head
- Shrunken heads in the Three Broomsticks
- House of Black house-elves (at least from 1931)
Behind the scenes
- The talking shrunken heads were additional characters for the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, never appearing in the Harry Potter books nor in previous or subsequent film adaptations. However, it was well-received, in the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban DVD Special Feature: Interview with J. K. Rowling and Alfonso Cuarón, J.K. Rowling did endorse the addition. Rowling had said she wished she thought of the idea, and if she had the ability, would shrink her own head temporarily to scare away unwanted visitors and tax collectors, who would likely flee from her in horror.
- The film's addition is presumably why in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Rowling decided to write that Vincent Crabbe got a shrunken head confiscated by Filch. The same DVD also featured Dre Head partaking in comical interviews with the cast.
- Helena Bonham Carter stated in an interview that Bellatrix had a headshrinking spell, and used it to punish a man who ate a cupcake she had reserved for herself by shrinking his head. However, this was never confirmed as canon, and it may be mentioned in humour by Carter. Assuming it is canon, it is unknown if the resulting shrunken head was of the talking variety, or merely what amounted to an unusual-looking corpse.
- In the case of the talking Shrunken Heads, it is unknown where the mind inhabiting them came from. They may all-new magical constructs, an imprint of the original head's owner comparable to Portraits, or a type of undead created through Necromancy.
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game) (As skeleton heads)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (video game) (As skeleton heads)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
- LEGO Harry Potter: Building the Magical World
- LEGO Harry Potter: Characters of the Magical World
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- LEGO Harry Potter
- Harry Potter: The Creature Vault
Notes and references
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film) - Chapter 11 (I Hope He Finds Me)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film) - Chapter 3 (The Knight Bus)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 11 (Hermione's Helping Hand)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 4 (At Flourish and Blotts)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film) DVD2 (Special Features) - Head to Shrunken Head
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 4 (Number Twelve Grimmauld Place)